Friday, April 30, 2010

For your weekend listening pleasure!(and viewing)

One of my all-time favorite Beatles songs performed live on the Apple Building
Rooftop! Enjoy!

You worked hard all week, live a little!

Have a nice weekend, folks.

Morongobill

Continued-Visit to the Calico Solar Project on 4/27/2010.

As I walked across the arid desert landscape staying within sight of my car, a
very interesting moment occurred- as I was looking at a creosote bush I saw what appeared to be a desert iguana. Here is a video.


The iguana was sitting very still in the shade of the creosote, never moved a muscle
or blinked an eye, even when I leaned over to zoom in. Maybe he thought I didn’t see
him or that I was no threat. This was a real surprise to me and the thought did occur
later that I was real lucky that it wasn’t a mojave green rattlesnake that I stumbled upon.
What the mojave green may lack in size, it more than compensates for with it’s powerful
venom and aggressive nature. Here is a photograph of Mr. Iguana.
solarone 025

The only time I was out of sight of my car was when I ventured down into a deep,wide,
and very sandy ephemeral wash, which came out of the Pisgah ACEC, ran under and across the transmission lines and power line road, and onto the Phase 1 area of the site near the substation area. I remembered with interest my earlier reading that Tessero,
when they surveyed the 8,000 acre project site, claimed that there were no ephemeral
washes on the site
.

I filmed a video here where I pointed out that campers might be tempted stop here
and sleep on the soft sand, but the steep and boggy sand walls might make it impossible to escape, in the event of a flash flood. Note to newbies- never camp out in a desert wash.
You can have a bright,blue sky, nary a cloud in sight, and 30 miles away a thundercloud
could pour down rain on an isolated area, and later, the flood can rip right through the area.
Be safe, don’t camp in washes.

A note, these videos taken with my cell phone as the batteries died in my digicam.

This giant creosote bush was located in the sandy wash. It was easily 10-12 feet
wide, and at least 5 feet tall. My uneducated guess is it was hundreds of years old.
Judging by all the varied plantlife, this wash must flood often and with such volume,
that sufficient water percolates down deep enough into the sand to keep everything alive
the rest of the year.

In this video, I find a “desert condo”, several burrows in the bank of the wash.

In the distance behind the substation, and looking out to that hill way out a few miles,
all that land will be completely filled up with thousands and thousands of the Sandia Labs designed “Suncatchers”, each about 38 feet wide. After that hill will lie the second phase
which will also have thousands of “Suncatchers”, needless to say, this landscape will
be forever changed. All in all, the project will lie alongside the freeway for about 4 miles.

After saying goodbye to the Solar One site, I drove back toward Barstow on National
Trails Hwy or Route 66. I had heard that the Mojave was putting on a spectacular
wildflower display along that route and I had to check it out. Here is the video that I made
along the way beside the highway across from the lava flows.


This was the prettiest part of the trip, occurring on Rt 66 between the Hector
Road exit and and the Newberry Springs area, mostly at the lava flow area. So
many flowers, springing up from the lava rocks, and extending out to the horizon.
Unfortunately by the time you read this, the flower display may have peaked and
starting dying off. Remember though that the flowers seem to peak at different times, in different areas. My suggestion is to check the desert wildflower reports at DesertUsa
before heading out. I highly recommend their reports and that website.

Folks, I barely scraped the surface on this short visit. And I don’t think that I’ll be able to
make a return visit for a while. So if you would like to go do a recon, head about 37 miles
east of Barstow on I-40 and get off at Hector Rd. From here you can access the western
end of the project site, then head east alongside the freeway until you hit Pisgah Crater
Rd. Or get off at Hector and go back the way you came on Rt 66, until you reach the
lava flow area.

A note about Facebook. I have disconnected my youtube channel from making notifications
on Facebook. I will notify people through this blog in the future of any videos being put
up online.

Morongobill

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Visit to the Calico Solar Project on 4/27/2010.

I made it out as promised and exited I-40 at Hector Road, there I followed it
down to the railroad track where I did notice that the gate locked by the railroad
was now open on the right side allowing access north of the tracks. However
considering the rough dirt road to get to the tracks, I decided to have mercy for
the morongomobile and just stop here, at which point I made the following
video with the webcam on my laptop.


After filming the video and refreshing my memory of the site location with files
stored on my laptop, I did a walk around here and filmed this short video. 


At this time, since I wasn’t in the project area and was low on water anyway, I drove
the few miles to Ludlow, staying on National Trails Hwy, Route 66, which runs
alongside of I-40 most of the way. There I stopped at a gas station/ convenience
market/Dairy Queen(I think) to pick up extra bottled water and I also bought some
divinity candy which was as good as any that I’ve had since I left my home in
Georgia some 30+ years ago.

After pigging out, I drove back toward the site on Rt. 66 where I stopped here to
do a little photography and explore under the bridge over the wash.
solarone 005

view looking the other way below.
 solarone 007

somewhere to the right of here and in the distance a ways was where BrightSource proposed the solar project
near Sleeping Beauty Valley that they dropped and I blogged about. 


Here’s another picture taken at the same location. Notice the gullies formed by the water
running from under the bridge, crossing the pavement, and then running off into the distance. I talked about this in the video.
solarone 006

After a short time here I headed east toward the Pisgah Crater Rd exit on Rt 66
to visit the electrical substation and transmission line area which I now knew was the
eastern boundary of the Solar One project area and was adjacent to an area of critical concern(ACEC). On the way, I filmed this video. 

Here is a video as I drove up to the substation.

 
On the way, I passed some railroad workers repairing the warning lights at a crossing.
Along the way, I noticed the road was between two gas pipelines. After a mile or so after
the bridges and the tracks, the pavement ended and the dirt road turned north toward the substation. Here is a photo of the substation area where I parked the morongomobile
and did a circular hike staying within eyesight of my car.
solarone 010

Right behind this , off into the distance as far as the eye can see, will be an endless field of sterling engine
solar dishes at some point in the future.

Call me paranoid, I don’t know what came over me but I didn’t feel comfortable
with leaving my car and hiking for miles out of its’ sight, so I decided to go in a
big circle with this location as the center of operations, and thus pretty much
being able to spot my car from anywhere, except when I was in the big sandy
wash, which I found, but evidently the Tesserro folks were not able to find.

I started walking east toward the horizon and right away saw interesting plants, etc.
I filmed this just 10 feet from my car. 


Right away I came across all kind of desert wildflowers. What a treat it was to be afraid
of stepping on tiny flowers and having to watch carefully where I walked.
solarone 018

This was an interesting plant, a desert lily I believe.
solarone 014

Here’s another shot of the little flowers and plants everywhere on this desert pavement.
solarone 015

Here are a couple videos I took in the general area. 

 

During my walk I came across an area which looked to be over-run with non- native
grasses, which extended out to the northeast for quite a long distance. I pointed out
in this video, how dangerous this area would be after the summer heat dried these out
and how easy it could set off a fire with just a spark, and no water to fight the fire with.


End of Part 1 of 2.

Folks this took a long time to process the videos so the next installment probably
will not be posted until the weekend.

Also I just realized that Facebook may have individually notified people hooked
up with my page individually each time I uploaded a video, I apologize and
have disconnected the Facebook notification feature.

Morongobill

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Mojave Cross decision in!

A big thank you to Chris over  at www.faultline.org for posting this
right away on his blog.

There are several wire service reports out, here is a link that I found
helpful.
http://www.pe.com/ap_news/California/US_Supreme_Court_Mojave_Cross_495564C.shtml

I agree that the Supreme Court justices(5 for it) sent a pretty strong signal
that they believe the cross should stay up as the article states.
teutonia peak hike-mnp 070

I look at this from a historical perspective. This cross has been up there way longer
than most of us have been alive. Its’ purpose and reason for being up there on top
of Sunrise Rock was to honor the veterans who died in World War One over in Europe,
those who gave that last, full measure of devotion. As I stated in one of my previous
posts, if some of the veterans were jewish or muslims, look at the picture, there’s room
on both sides for the star of David and the Crescent, add them if needed.

To those that say church and state absolutely must be separate, may I suggest you
you look on the back side of the money in your pocket? It says "IN GOD WE TRUST”.
Or go into virtually any court room in the country or look at the frieze up on the building
outside, like at the Supreme Court, there are religious symbols up there and I am so
sorry to tell you this, they are not coming down. Period, end of story.

So let’s reflect on this for a while. I for one am very grateful for this decision. The Mojave
Desert Cross, to me, has become part of Sunrise Rock and of the Mojave National
Preserve, part of the legend and lore of the place, and can only add to the beauty of the
location, at least to these eyes. I look forward to another visit there soon.

My only suggestion to the park service would be to not allow camping right adjacent to
the area, as that has a possible negative impact on people that might wish to visit the cross.
I mean come on, it’s really noisy there at the roadside when cars drive by, so maybe
rv’ers and others should consider camping at locations farther off the beaten path.

What are your thoughts and feelings about the cross? Should it stay or go? We’d love
to see your opinions here, just click the small envelope at the bottom of the post and
write your comments.

Vaya con dios, my friends.

Morongobill


Ridgecrest Solar, has the decisive moment occurred?

Yesterday it was reported by our friends over at www.basinandrangewatch.org
that, in an unprecedented move for a solar power firm, Solar Millennium has
requested that its’ Ridgecrest project be pulled from “fast track” status to allow
for more time to work out the biological issues facing it. I am referring, of course,
to the main issues being desert tortoise and mojave ground squirrel concerns,
which caused the CEC staff to recommend against approval for this project at its’ current Brown Rd location.

Sometimes in life, events occur which later, in hindsight, are decisive in that they
happened when they did. Perhaps this will be one of those moments. The forces
arrayed against the deserts are powerful but they are not all powerful. And it seems
to me, despite all the high falutin language in these prospectus like documents that
you find on the government dockets page, that some of these guys are flying by
the seat of their pants, you know what I mean, Vern?

How could Solar Millennium with all their biologists on staff, all the scientific evidence
available for their perusal, how could they ignore the alternative site proposals and
settle on this site, which has one of the highest %’s of endangered desert
tortoises in all the mojave and is smack dab in the middle of a major mojave
ground squirrel connecting corridor, duh, I think we got a problem here, boss.

Maybe at last, this respite will give the CEC members the time that they need to, uh, here
I go again, just can’t help myself, to grow a pair, and stand up for the
environment!

I guess I should tell you guys that one of my favorite sayings is “hope springs eternal”.

Morongobill out.

Join the conversation folks. What are your thoughts? Am I reading too much into this?
We are waiting out here on the backporch for your comments. Just click on the little
envelope and we can get started with the discussion.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Ivanpah doomed? Has John Woolard, ceo BrightSource Energy gotten the last word?

Here is a message that I sent out to the Sirra Club list serv today:

Recently I came across a video which was mentioned on this list, where
Mr. Woolard
went on at great length about his background as an urban planner, graduate study
work, how his company moves very slowly and carefully before picking a
site, even talking about how they look only for disturbed land, why he
even mentions Ivanpah being disturbed
by cattle grazing there!
Sorry to disturb the collegial, cerebral atmosphere here on this
mailing list but:
WHAT A CROCK OF B.S!
Are we going to let this clown have the last word on this matter?
Moves slowly, my a--!
They are already putting the construction markers up in place, I saw
them but failed to
remember seeing them when I made my last Ivanpah post on my blog, and
Shaun over at
the Mojave Desert Blog also had photos of the flags up.
I'm going to invite all readers to see my fieldtrip reports to Ivanpah
on my blog. You look at it, does Ivanpah look disturbed to you? I
think the only scattered trash I saw was a balloon, a construction
pail, and some rusty tin cans that had been there for decades! Or go
over
to basinandrangewatch.org and see their reports on Ivanpah.
Here's an invitation to all
the high muckedy mucks at the Sierra Club leadership who think climate
change(and
the stroking of the corporate donor egos and checkbooks involved) is
the paramount issue and we must sacrifice for the greater good, I
extend the same invitation that I recently made to our environmental
governor in chief on my blog(made via picture)- GO SIT ON A YUCCA
LEAF,THEN MAYBE YOU'LL GET THE POINT! The Mojave desert is about to be
raped and pillaged, understand?
Sorry for shouting,it's possible I might care just a little for the
Mojave and Ivanpah, go
checkout the blog, relax there are no ads, the only thing I am trying
to sell is just get
off the fence for once, yes I know there are no thousand year old
redwoods at Ivanpah, but how about hundreds and thousand year old
creosote growth rings? Respect your elders, I was taught growing up in
Georgia, so I respect that the creosote and other plantlife there has
hung on all those years, in spite of it all.
But this nonchalance, just may be the end of it all.
Here's the link to the video if you haven't seen it and also there are
2 links to my fieldtrip to Ivanpah:
http://morongobillsbackporch.blogspot.com/2010/04/its-late-i-know-john-woolard-ceo.html
Here is a link to my 1st Ivanpah fieldtrip:
http://morongobillsbackporch.blogspot.com/2010/03/visit-to-brightsource-ivanpah-solar.html
I'm just a bus driver, probably not the sharpest knife in the drawer,
but I think I've been around long enough to recognize a pat on the
head, now go to your room and let the adults handle the situation, or
maybe it's more the fix is in perhaps, maybe BrightSource or Tessero
will be funding a new conservation project somewhere who knows?
Guess we won't know until the dust from the mowers and earthmovers
settles at Ivanpah soon before we know the answer.
Bill Mcdonald
http://morongobillsbackporch.blogspot.com

I am reposting the message to this blog, just in case I somehow didn’t get
the syntax right and my message gets kicked out by their server.

The message speaks for itself, and I won’t repeat my arguments here. But I
do want to mention why I wrote this missive above.

I recently received an email from someone requesting where I got my information
on a different matter. I sent the information and just on a lark googled the name
of the person who I discovered to be an accomplished individual with a record
of supporting wilderness etc. Then later I see where the Sierra Club’s recent
election has some people thinking perhaps that the emphasis there may now be
more on the corporate donors perhaps, then I saw the word Ivanpah, and the
rest is history as they say.

I honestly don’t know the official Sierra Club position on Ivanpah, I do know that they intervened and offered a different site location for Ivanpah, basically move it closer to the freeway, I think, but I think that’s it. I do know their guy in charge of these matters
said something to the effect that some sacrifices may have to be made…..

Oh God, how I long for those old days of just a few short decades ago, before the
big companies and their big checkbooks became such a part of the process, and hijacked
the movement. In the old days, one environmental group or the other would have slapped
a federal law suit so fast on BrightSource, the BLM, and Dept of Interior, CEC, and the
state of California so fast, their heads would still be spinning! Then we’d pass the hat
around, digging into our pockets as deep as our conscience requires, to keep the lawyers
paid.

God how I long for those days. And how I long for a shining GREEN KNIGHT to ride to
the Ivanpah Valley’s rescue!
archivecd18 108

Time will tell if those hopes are in vain, but that hope will spur us on to keep fighting
for Ivanpah and other wild places, that though without redwoods, are still worthy of our
respect and protection.

Morongobill


 

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Weekend reading, highly recommended!

It appears I am going to be driving the San Pedro trolley this
weekend which runs from Fountain Plaza over to downtown
and then to the Maritime Museum, Ports O’ Call, and back to
where I started. There is no internet access and it is usually
about an eleven hour day. I should be doing this Saturday
and Sunday.

Since I probably will not be able to do research on the net to
come up with the “award winning” blogging you guys have come
to expect here on the backporch, I have decided to offer a reading
list, some things to check out.

Here is a very interesting article which chronicles Bill Gross of
IdeaLabs from his teenage years, then working his way through
college the first couple years with his own solar ideas, to being
the startup king of the net, and his return to renewable energy
with eSolar. This is a 5 page article written in typical Wired Magazine
style, meaning it goes into some detail and is fun to read.
http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.07/solar.html

Here is another excellent read. This story in the NY Times is about
families who live on top of a mesa about 30 miles or so from Albuquerque,
New Mexico where for decades they have resided with no water or
electric infrastructure at all. Hopefully, you can just click this link to
get to the story and not have to register, but if you do, there is no charge.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/19/us/19mesa.html?th&emc=th

Here is an interesting website devoted to the writings of Bo Kelley,
world traveler and landowner, who resides way out in the wilds of the
California desert in a homestead he calls “scorpion’s crotch”, when he’s
in the U.S.A. He is the guy who lives underground to get out of the heat
and used to have a rattlesnake that lived right by his front door! 
http://www.dailyspeculations.com/keeley/hobo_index.html

This should keep you busy for a while, have a good weekend, maybe
I will see you in San Pedro.

Morongobill


 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Some images to celebrate the 40th Earthday.

And let’s don’t forget Senator Gaylord Nelson who started all this
and remember his prescient reminder from 2002”The economy is a wholly owned subsidiary of the environment, not the other way around.”
archivecd18 108 
Of course the above photo taken from the small hilltop next to the I-15 Nipton Road
will probably look substantially different by Earthday 2011.
archivecd18 126 
Better go out and drive up the road toward Clark Mountain and the wilderness areas
soon as the earthmovers are getting ready to start up, no doubt about it!
ivanpahfieldtrip 002
Yes, next Earthday is sure going to be different out at Ivanpah, gonna be a whole
lot of blading going on- unless something changes in a hurry.
ivanpahfieldtrip 004
Future home of thousands of heliostat mirrors compliments of our friends at
BrightSource Energy, you know the folks who take their time, siting projects on
disturbed land to avoid consequences to the environment.
ivanpahfieldtrip 019
A juvenile barrel cactus, a very lucky one, somehow it ended up growing on the
metamorphic hillside, out of the reach of the BrightSource mowers and earthmovers!
ivanpah032410hike 044
The cactuses above won’t be as lucky. They can survive a desert tortoise taking a
bite out of them but I doubt they can survive a direct hit from an earthmover.
archivecd16 251
The above photo was not taken at Ivanpah but it fits my mood at this very
moment. Somehow I just have the feeling sometimes that no matter how
hard we try, it just may not quite be enough to overcome the forces that
are arrayed against us. It’s a damned shame and it just means we have
to keep on persevering in our quest to save Ivanpah and the other targeted
areas from such a fate.

Just some photos to help everyone in their appreciation and understanding
of this 40th Earthday.

Morongobill






 

In the crosshairs again: Ward Valley and …

Thanks to Shaun over at the Mojave Desert Blog for his post about
giant solar farms in California, are they viable? You can read that here:
http://www.mojavedesertblog.com/2010/04/are-mega-solar-farms-viable.html

He points out in his post the many, huge solar farms that are planned
for the California deserts, several in the Colorado desert, totaling 112,966
acres or almost
200 square miles!

I noticed with interest that a massive 15,000 acres were proposed for solar
in the Twentynine Palms area, probably out east of town off of Hwy 62. That
is almost 25 square miles, you know 5 miles by 5 miles. I believe that
is desert tortoise habitat out there.
2,500 acres here, 10,000 there- I don’t
care how you mitigate it, pretty soon you are talking substantial and real
habitat loss,
to rephrase Senator Everett Dirksen’s famous quote,” a billion
dollars here, a billion dollars there, pretty soon you’re talking real money!”
And don’t forget the U.S. Marines want to take another 300,000 acres or so
to add to the base there, which already is the largest of its’ type in the whole
world!

Now on to Ward Valley. Those poor guys out there. They just won a more than
a decade long fight, including a court battle, to keep their area, including lands
sacred to native Americans, from being turned into a nuclear, hazardous waste
dump, only to find out now that they are targeted for a more than 50
square mile solar farm!
Some corporate entity, Leopold Companies Inc
has filed for approval for solar on 35,466 acres there. I don’t know exactly where
it will be sited, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these seemingly tone deaf mappers
don’t have it set up to go right into the sacred areas! I mean look how they seem
to only want to site their plants in sensitive habitat areas, or only want to use
water cooling, in the MIDDLE OF THE DESERT. Some might say, they are not
the sharpest tools in the box, if you know what I mean.

You know I thought Ivanpah and Ridgecrest were bad, but these sites really take
the cake. Humungous, monstrous sized plants which will require huge amounts of
water, far away from civilization, requiring non-existent at the moment infrastructure
just to house the workers, needing massive upgrades of the transmission system-
it boggles the mind.

Perhaps if General George Catlett Marshall came back from the grave and took charge
of this soon to go down in history giant boondoggle, there might be some hope
that sanity and commonsense might have a chance, he would have the gravitas and
acumen required to set the priorities straight and sort things out. I really can’t think
of anyone off the top of my head capable to bring order out of this chaos- Gen. Marshall,
a Gulliver is needed while all we have are the Lilliputians, from Obama to Salazar
to Arnold”run over the tortoises”Governator. Amazing times we live in, ain’t they?

To the residents of Ward Valley, gird your loins or as Pat Buchanan would say
”mount up and ride to the sound of the guns!” We will be standing by, waiting for
more information to come out- there is a dearth of real solid information right now, or
else I just can’t find it- we are willing and able to help in any way possible with the
impending struggle to come.
archivecd18 200

A thought for the day, albeit a gloomy one, but one with a chance for hope in the end,
we need to just keep fighting, to save the deserts and wild places, I know we didn’t
ask for it  but if not for each of us, who else will do it?

Keep the faith.

Morongobill


 

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Working and no place to live, maybe coming soon to a desert near you?

Here is a video and accompanying article from today’s New York Times about the
situation in Williston, North Dakota where there are lots and lots of great paying
jobs and no place to live.

North Dakota is a state with around 4% unemployment, 800 million dollar budget
surplus, and many, many jobs available in the oil and gas business, high paying jobs
but as the video and article point out, no place to live. Every hotel room and
apartment are taken and whole families are forced to stay together in one motel
room for months on end when they find a room. A dire situation.

How is that of any concern to this blog which is devoted to issues that have an effect
on the Mojave desert? Because, let’s say, the feds and state and big money green power
interests force through every proposal on the books and start the earthmovers up for
every project out in the desert. There will be thousands and thousands of men and women
looking for a place to stay with their families while the work goes on, in some cases for two years or more.

How many of my readers have travelled through the Mojave and other deserts out here
in California? A few I’m sure. The majority of these planned pipe dreams, I mean solar
and wind projects are far out, not the 60’s term, far out in the desert miles from a town, in
some cases hundreds of miles. Now I have personal experience with a two hundred mile a day roundtrip commute for over four years, and I did it because I owned two homes in the
place I wanted to be in, the desert, but most people I think don’t relish the idea of that
kind of commuting. Where are these workers and their families going to live once all these
fast tracked projects kick in and the work begins on the final industrialization and destruction of our beautiful deserts?

If the talking heads and policymakers think they’ll all fit in Ludlow or Goffs or Baker or
Twentynine Palms, etc they are mistaken. They won’t. And this area is as hard to live in
as any in the country, even if you had a million dollar mobile mansion! How many of the workers are going to be driving in to the area, riding along in their home? Not many but
they better start thinking about it, really.

This is just another example of how something may look good on paper to some folks
but then fails due to lack of thinking the situation through, you know, kind of like a chess
game where you think several moves ahead and not just about your immediate move
at the moment.

This may sound alarmist to some, but check out this video and read the article and you
decide if I am crying wolf and tell me about via your comments to this post.
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/21/us/21ndakota.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fnational%2Findex.jsonp

Folks sorry I can not get the link for the video to display here so please go to the above
link and read the story at the NYT. You can click on the video from that page to watch.
Or you can go to my facebook page, morongobill.

Morongobill

IMG_0098

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Boy what happened tonight?

I am sitting here in my office at the local donut shop that I hang out at
and decided to check with Statcounter, the free visitor counter software,
that I am using to see how many folks are stopping by here--- anyway I
almost spit coffee out all over when I saw that I got 65 page views tonight,
amazing, and of course it happened after I removed the ads!

Just kidding folks. Got you going, didn’t I?

I’m trying something new, making a twitter-like post about just what’s going
on in my mind at the moment. Just got my paycheck, bills are paid, went
over to my girlfriends’ place for a great spaghetti dinner, she says she makes
it “Mexican style”, you make it like normal but then pour the juice from the
jalapenos in with it, just absolutely fantastic, try it sometime!

Right now tonight, I have been researching Bill Powers, the electrical engineer
for a possible future post, I’m telling you this gentleman is really sharp and
knows this stuff backwards and forwards. We’d be in a lot better shape and the
deserts would be in a lot less danger, if the CEC and BLM would pay more
attention to what he says.

But don’t take my word for it, google this search term just as it’s typed:

“bill powers”+solar

Now you see how I do it, try it out, and come back here and let us know how
it went via a comment here or feel free to comment on any of my posts any
time.

Thanks as always for stopping by a spell at the backporch.

Morongobill


Westlands Solar Park, time to think outside the box?

Up in Kings and Fresno counties lie 47 square miles of used up, bone dry,
selenium riddled, fallow farm land, owned mostly by the Westlands Water
District. Unfortunately due to the salty nature of the land and no water, the
land is worthless for farming crops, but perhaps might be perfect to grow
solar mirrors.

And in the process, this worthless land might be the way forward out of the
fight that is brewing between the governments both state and federal, the
solar industrial complex, vs the environmentalists and others who hope to
retain the deserts as they are, wild and unindustrialized.

According to articles I have read, this property has the potential to supply
5000 megawatts of solar power, and that’s just from using 5% of the land.
That comes from sworn testimony of Bill Powers, consultant engineer, in
sworn testimony to the California Energy Commission.

And the beauty of this also is that since it is private land and not part of any
environmental sensitive or endangered species habitat, Jupiter aligns with
Mars, and voila! the normal regulatory hurdles don’t have to jumped over. By
normal, I am referring to those hurdles that are there in front of BrightSource
Energy, or Tessarro etc- those companies that have sites planned for federal
land that just happens to be home for the desert tortoise for example.

In a nutshell, this is the perfect example of a “shovel ready” project that just
requires contract signing, permitting, and financing to get started. And by the
way, this area alone if developed, per Bill Powers, would mean Ivanpah would
not even have to be built to meet the state’s mandated 33% renewable energy target
by 2020. Fast-tracking development of the Westlands with industrial scale urban and
distributed pv would meet the goals by itself. Just imagine, no Ridgecrest or Cady
or whatever.

Of course the big losers would be the other energy companies and the investment
bankers and lobbyists, unless as part of the negotiations they were allowed in to
share in the pie. The big winners would be this local water company, the investment
group they hired, solar outfits they utilize(perhaps eSolar ;-) and the taxpayers along
with the flora and fauna of the deserts, and electric customers who hopefully
wouldn’t be hit with massive, long term rate hikes to pay for all this.

It seems to me that it’s a win-win all way around. Useless land, sunshine, plus unused
major transmission line capacity nearby and it is centrally located in the state.

I think the CEC should have listened to Mr. Powers and others who have pitched for
projects like this, instead of just going for what they thought were the easiest, raw
land way out in the middle of the desert.

I bet there are many places like this that could be utilized for solar production, and
wouldn’t generate the controversy like Ridgecrest or Ivanpah, that wouldn’t have
such a deleterious effect on wilderness, we just need to hold the policymaker’s feet
to the fire and insist they look for them.

Here are some links to look over:
http://www.pressherald.com/business/ecologists-growers-agree-site-would-work-for-solar-farm_2010-03-21.html

http://www.fresnobee.com/2010/03/15/1859943/valley-solar-plant-would-be-among.html
http://www.columbiatribune.com/news/2010/mar/25/solar-power-plan-rooted-in-fallow-soil/?farm
http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/bnelson/solar_in_the_central_valley_th.html
http://solar.coolerplanet.com/News/3171002-solar-panels-the-next-big-farm-crop-for-us.aspx
http://docs.google.com/fileview?id=0ByWXr6LCciwVMDgzMzI2NWMtMDliMi00MzU4LTk4ZTgtOWNlYWRlZGNjYjM1&hl=en
The link directly above is to Bill Powers testimony, and is a 755kb download and
well worth a read.

Folks, let me digress and say something about my last post.
I think my comments regarding our governor’s environmental record don’t need any
explanation. However, some may wonder why I went off on Mr. Kennedy who does
have a record on the environment and has litigated on behalf of it numerous times
in his career. All that is well and good and part of history, but what have you done
lately for the California environment, especially the deserts, that is what concerns
this blogger.

Mr. Kennedy is part of the VantagePoint Venture Partners, among whose clients
is BrightSource Energy of the BrightSource Ivanpah fame. When questioned about
this, Mr. Kennedy went off on the environmentalists opposing the project ,which as
far as I am concerned, showed a closed mind as concerns desert issues in California.

So he’s fair game to me.
I am a lifelong Bobby Kennedy admirer and even have a Bobby for president button
from his last campaign here. I can’t prove this and I may be wrong, and often am,
but I don’t believe he’d side with his son on this. Mr. Kennedy, the patriarch, no doubt
probably would, but I doubt Bobby would.

But that just may be my wishful thinking.
I hope this late clarification will shed some light on that post.
Thanks for reading and visiting the backporch.
Morongobill

Please see my latest post on this project here:

http://morongobillsbackporch.blogspot.com/2010/07/anything-new-going-on-at-proposed.html

Friday, April 16, 2010

From a mailing list I subscribe to- I swear you can’t make this stuff up!

I echo the author’s sentiments and would add that he will also go down in history as the worst
governor in California history as far as causing damage to the deserts with his shoving these
wind and solar projects down our throats. I’ll be so happy when his time is up, don’t let the
door hit you in the a—bozo on your way out!
I can hear it now, tell us how you
really feel, there Morongobill!

Anyway without further ado or raspberries, here is the article:

Date:    Thu, 15 Apr 2010 20:17:37 -0700
From:    Terry Frewin <terrylf@cox.net>
Subject: The Death of Satire
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The Death of Satire: RFK, Jr. Greenwashes Arnold’s War on Salmon
by Dan Bacher
Political satire in the United States will officially die tonight, April 14.
That’s when Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., the Chief Prosecuting Attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper, will
honor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the worst Governor for fish and the environment in California history,
for his “environmental advocacy.”
Schwarzenegger will be honored at the “Riverkeeper’s Annual Fishermen’s Ball” at Pier Sixty on the
Hudson River in New York City at a dinner fundraiser that will begin at 6:30 p.m. Spike Lee will
also present an award to HBO during the event
(http://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/events/rvk-events/the-fishermens-ball).
No late night comedian, inflammatory radio talk show host or other practitioner of political satire
could come up with a scenario this bizarre no matter how they try. Reality, particularly in
Schwarzenegger’s California, has become a self-parody, a living satirical comedy that knows no
bounds.
Kennedy and the Riverkeeper are giving this award in spite of the deluge of letters and phone calls
from conservationists, fishermen and environmental justice advocates blasting them for honoring
Schwarzenegger. During his tenure, Schwarzenegger has presided over the unprecedented collapse of
Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon, striped bass, threadfin shad,
American shad and other fish populations in the California Delta.
Confronted by pleas by fish advocates to withdraw the award to Schwarzenegger because of his abysmal
environmental record, Kennedy and Riverkeeper staff have not only proceeded forward with their plans
to honor Schwarzenegger, but they have refused to respond to the barrage of phone calls and letters.
In fact, a Riverkeeper spokesman would only speak on the condition of anonymity to reporters from
the Sacramento Bee, and the Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow (New York) Patch to explain why they would honor
Schwarzenegger in spite of such widespread opposition to his environmental policies.
“The group is honoring Schwarzenegger specifically for his work on climate change, according to a
press contact who declined to be named for this post,” reported Kevin Yamamura in his article in the
Sacramento Bee
(http://www.sacbee.com/static/weblogs/capitolalertlatest/2010/04/ny-water-enviro.html).
Likewise, a Riverkeeper official, who did not want to be named, told Dan Wiessner of the
Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow Patch, “The governor’s work speaks for itself. He’s recognized across the
world for his work in combating global climate change
(http://tarrytown.patch.com/articles/green-governator-or-fish-terminator).
The Riverkeeper’s mission is “to protect the ecological integrity of the Hudson River and its
tributaries, and to safeguard the drinking water supply of New York City and the lower Hudson
Valley.”
The Hudson Riverkeeper, founded by commercial and recreational fishermen in Tarrytown 40 years ago,
has spawned a nationwide network of more than 150 groups, including many in California, that lobby
for clean water and other environmental initiatives.
Since Schwarzenegger took office in 2003 in a recall election, he has waged a relentless war on
salmon, salmon fishermen and the environment in California that is diametrically opposed to the
Riverkeeper’s mission of protecting the “ecological integrity” of rivers. His administration has
become known for its numerous conflicts of interests, corruption and violation of the state’s
environmental laws.
In the latest Field Pool, California voters gave Schwarzenegger the lowest rating of his career,
with his approval dropping to only 23 percent in March, down from 27 percent in October. This is as
low as Governor Gray Davis’s rating was in 2003 before he was recalled in a special election.
I suspect that Schwarzenegger may be receiving the award because of his close relationship to Robert
F. Kennedy Jr., and other Kennedy family members through his marriage to Maria Shriver.
Regardless of the reasoning behind it, the honoring of Schwarzenegger in an insult to the fishermen,
Indian Tribes, environmentalists and others who have been under assault by his policies. Kennedy and
the Riverkeeper, by giving “green cover” to Schwarzenegger, are in effect endorsing his war on fish
and fishermen. This is greenwashing at its worst and most shameless.
There is no doubt that George W. Bush, a man that Kennedy repeatedly criticized for his bad
environmental policies, ravaged fish and the environment during his long eight years in office.
However, Schwarzenegger has exceeded even Bush’s fervor in his war on fish and the environment –and
Kennedy and the Riverkeeper are honoring him!
The Hudson Riverkeeper is honoring Schwarzenegger the “Green Governor” for his incessant and cynical
grandstanding on “global warming” and “green energy.” Since being elected in 2003, Schwarzenegger’s
record includes the following examples of “environmental advocacy”:
• He allowed the Department of Water Resources to pump record levels of water out of the Delta from
2004 to 2007, resulting in the current Central Valley salmon and California Delta pelagic species
collapses.The largest annual water export levels in history occurred in 2003 (6.3 million acre
feet), 2004 (6.1 MAF), 2005 (6.5 MAF) and 2006 (6.3 MAF). Exports averaged 4.6 MAF annually between
1990 and 1999 and increasing to an average of 6 MAF between 2000 and 2007, a rise of almost 30
percent, according to the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.
• He has vetoed numerous environmental bills, including a badly needed bill by Lois Wolk that would
provide for emergency fish rescue plans.
• He has consistently slashed funding for game wardens in the field while California has the lowest
ratio of wardens to residents of any state in the nation.
• He directed the Central Valley Regional Water Control Board to continue to grant waivers to
agricultural polluters, in spite of the dire condition of Delta fisheries.
• Since 2004, he has fast-tracked a controversial Marine Protected Area (MPA) process filled with
conflicts of interest and corruption that kicks sustainable fishermen, Indian tribal members and
seaweed harvesters off the water while refusing to deal with pollution, coastal development and
other human uses of the ocean that have lead to fishery declines.
• Schwarzenegger recently introduced a bill that would allow the lame-duck Governor to choose 25
development projects each year that would be exempt from the state’s strict standards under the
California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (ttp://http://www.ecovote.org/blog/?p=1674).
However, Schwarzenegger’s greatest passion is to make the Delta a polluted “fish-free” zone by
campaigning with Senator Dianne Feinstein for a massive peripheral canal and more dams that will
cost an estimated $23 billion to $53.8 billion at a time that the state of California doesn’t have
enough money to pay for its teachers, game wardens and health care for children.
In November, Schwarzenegger and Legislative Leaders pushed through a controversial water
policy/water bond package that creates a clear path to the peripheral canal and new dams. If not
stopped, the canal will likely lead to the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish
populations.
In addition, at photo opportunities and in press conferences Schwarzenegger has continually attacked
the court-ordered biological opinions for Delta smelt and Central Valley salmon. These plans
conclude that current water pumping operations in the Federal Central Valley Project and the
California State Water Project should be changed to ensure survival of Delta smelt, winter and
spring-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, the southern population of North American green
sturgeon and southern Resident killer whales. The whales rely on Chinook salmon runs for food.
“This federal biological opinion puts fish above the needs of millions of Californians and the
health and security of the world’s eighth largest economy,” claimed Schwarzenegger in a press
release on June 4, 2009. “The piling on of one federal court decision after another in a
species-by-species approach is killing our economy and undermining the integrity of the Endangered
Species Act” (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2009/06/04/18600502.php).
Schwarzenegger neglected to point out that sustainable fisheries contribute billions of dollars to
the California economy and thousands of jobs. He also failed to note that his administration’s
polices of record exports have led to the collapse of fall run Chinook salmon, the driver of West
Coast salmon fisheries (http://www.counterpunch.org/bacher02122010.html).
A record low of only 39,530 fall Chinook adults returned to the Sacramento River basin to spawn in
2009. This contrasts with nearly 800,000 salmon in 2002.
Southwick Associates have estimated that the season closures caused by the collapse of Central
Valley salmon cost an estimated 23,000 jobs and $2.8 billion in the California economy alone,
according to Dick Pool, administrator of water4fish.org. California has over 2,000 small and medium
businesses that derive most or all of their income from the recreational and commercial salmon
industry.
So tonight a “Fishermens’ Ball,” sponsored by a group that was founded by commercial and
recreational fishermen, will “honor” for his “environmental advocacy” a Governor that is the
greatest enemy of fish, fishermen and the environment in California history.
Although I have admired R.F.K. Jr. and the Riverkeeper for their great efforts to restore the Hudson
River, they h ave flushed their credibility down the toilet of history by honoring the “Fish
Terminator” for his “environmental advocacy” tonight.
“The award is a farce,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta.
“Schwarzenegger is perpetuating a water delivery system that will wipe out what’s left of California
’s salmon run and will deal the final death blow to the Delta. This award is a classic example of
greenwashing.”
“Governor Schwarzenegger’s term has been a disaster as far as protection of water quality and
fisheries in California is concerned,” said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California
Sportfishing Protection Alliance and former Deltakeeper, who emphasized that he has enormous respect
for RFK, Jr., and his environmental work. “Schwarzenegger has used his stance on air quality as a
cover and shield for the harm he has done on water issues.”
Jennings, whose organization has 55 pending appeals and several lawsuits directed against the
Schwarzenegger administration, is puzzled why the Riverkeeper, an organization that focuses on water
quality, is awarding the Governor for his stance on air quality.
The Governor’s remarks from the “Fishermen’s Ball” will be webcast live at http://www.gov.ca.gov.
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Here Arnold, I got something for you, why don’t you sit on this for awhile:
ivanpah032410hike 047

What a pair of jackasses! The governator and the wanna be environmentalist when
I grow up one day wonderboy! I apologize folks for getting carried away here, it won’t
happen again.(at least not in this post!)

This next photo shows the two honorees out doing a field survey at the Ivanpah BrightSource
site recently. Boy I bet they were surprised to see me! I was shocked and forgot to zoom in.
arnie and bobby jr Sorry for the poor quality of the above photograph, being a paparazzi is not as easy as I thought!
The big muscular one on the left is Arnie and the scrawny one on the right is Bobby Jr!

Below is what the guests at the ball should have been given on the way in to the gala black tie event, the very minimum award that could be bestowed upon the honorees by the adoring, fawning
audience!
ivanpahfieldtrip 011
Oh my, how much fun would it have been to be there at such an honored event in history,
and to bestow upon the two honorees the homage and respect that they so richly deserve!

Two steaming piles of roadapples for two of the biggest b-llsh-tter’s in recent memory!
What great theater! What a sign of the times!

I hope they choke on their awards.

Tell us how you really feel!

Morongobill